Do not fret, the weather in Chicago will eventually stay consistent and we will get our sunshine. But no matter where you live, you should make the most out of every summer day that mother nature gives you. This time featured on our Small Biz Bio segment, we are looking at a company that produces the perfect alternative to a dunk tank. If you need a way to bring excitement to a party or event you are hosting, their products are easy to put together and move to different areas of your event. Meet Brent from KO Water Games, a natural inventor, a service provider, and a man of inspiration.
Q: Tell us about yourself in general
I initially started working at a funeral home, then I went to COD for a degree in fire science. After working as an EMT, I decided to be my own boss and work for myself especially after we were granted our patent in 2012. Since then, I have had this family owned business working full time. So as you can tell I have jumped around quite a bit but I believe having a very diverse background has helped me excel in customer service.
Q:What do you do? What does the process entail?
We manufacture and sell the patented Soak 'n' Wet and Fun Funnel. Our assembly line setup makes for an efficient manufacturing process whihc mazimizes our production when creating one of these units..
Q: Why do you do what you do?
Honestly, it beats working for a living. Sure there are deadlines and time frames you need to meet, such as shipping out orders and make sure we have enough supplies for production. But one of the most important parts of my job is getting great feedback, especially striving for that 5 star rating on Amazon which is difficult to maintain.
It easy for someone having a bad day to leave a negative review about your product, even if it's not your product's fault. So we always strive for perfection to get great customer service and satisfaction. Since our products will always be available on Amazon, we must continue to produce high-quality products at a great price. If we start to slack, those reviews ratings could start plummeting which in turn could hurt future potential customers.
Q: Why Dunk tanks? What sparked your efforts to pursue a career in this?
It all started in the 90's, my family attended carnivals and we enjoyed watching people get soaked in the dunk tank. I always thought it was unfair that on hot summer days I would see these people get soaked and cooled off while all of us not in the dunk tank were sweating in the sun and paying money to knock them in the water.
So my dad who was always very handy and creative would build us carnival games such as bozo buckets and a mini putt course for our local town picnics and block parties. He decided to look into building a dunk tank since the price to buy one was out of the question considering it would be thousands of dollars. He needed to build a smaller, less expensive unit. The first version involved a water balloon popping over your head making the person underneath wet. After we got tired of refilling water balloons my dad decided to fill a bucket of water with a toilet plunger of sorts and that would activate causing the water to fall on the person.
Granted this version was large and made from heavy wood, but still more portable that a dunk tank, so we would bring it to town picnics, work picnics, birthday parties and block parties and people had a blast. As time went on my dad decided to put the machine away till the time was right, in fear of someone copying the design. Then in 2011, we started re-designing it out of our basement, trying to figure out how can we make this more portable and lighter by using PVC piping instead of wood. So we tinkered around for about a year. After much trial and error we had a working prototype which we submitted to a patent attorney. We were granted our patent and we formed KO Water Games and learned how to manage and build the company since then.
Q: What problems have you run into? And how have you solved them?
Vendors that provide some of our material have either discontinued certain items or stopped giving us wholesale prices. Cash flow is also a problem since we sell mostly six months out of the year.
We have had to go with vendors that would work with us considering it was the height of our summer sales and had very limited time to find the right vendor. As far as cash flow we have increased our winter sales to pay the bills throughout the colder months where not many people are interested in buying water toys. Also, we are now selling our product to countries in other parts of the world which include Australia, New Zealand and South America where is it summer when it is winter here.
Q: What inspired you to start this? What inspires you to continue? What inspires the products & service you provide?
What inspired me to start this was mainly our patent, knowing that we have exclusive rights and a trademark made me want to build this company and change the way people think about dunk tanks. Our mission statement is, "Why rent when you can own?" . Our competitive advantage is the portability. You do not need to hook a trailer hitch to the unit and tow it around. You can break the unit down and place it in the back seat of your car. It is much cleaner than a dunk tank, you don't fall in the same water as other people. It takes minutes to setup unlike a dunk tank, which takes hours to fill up a 200 to 500-gallon container, you only fill one bucket. Most importantly, everyone can use it, no weight or drowning hazards like the conventional dunk tank has.
What makes me appreciate my job the most is making customers happy. I got a call from an underprivileged school district that thought our product would be great for a fundraising event. They wanted to get their teacher or principle SOAK n' WET in hopes of instantly putting a smile on the kids faces. They were able to accomplish this mission over and over because they bought our product This product we make is an appreciation, not a depreciation. You can actually make money with this product since you use it over and over without a one-day rental fee like that of a standard dunk-tank
What also inspires me to keep working is that as we have sold around the world from Australia to Israel and what I noticed in the feedback and pictures customers send us is that the Soak 'n' Wet produces international feedback. We produce smiles and laughter no matter what race, country or language people speak.
Q: Why the name KO water games?
We wanted to have a water-themed company name so we brainstormed a lot of ideas and finally decided that since this was a family owned business, we should just add the first two letters of our last name KO to it. Since KO had a nice ring and is an abbreviation for "Knock Out," we wanted people to refer to us as Knock Out Water Games.
Q: Where can people find you?
We sell almost exclusively online: our retail website, Amazon, Ebay, Esty, bonanza, Sears and iOffer. If you are in the area we can make the exception and deliver directly.
Q: What does the future hold?
We want to sell more of our product globally. With the help of selling through Ebay's global shipping program customers around the world in almost 60 countries can purchase our product with ease and greatly discounted international shipping and import costs.
As well as expand our global shipping sales through Amazon. With Amazon's prime membership, our sales have greatly increased. In the past, if a customer wanted a product overnighted or within a few days, it would cost more than standard ground shipping, which we offer free with purchase. But now Amazon has 2 day, 1 day and even depending on your location, same delivery options at a great price. So the future is to continue to make people happy laugh smile and raise money in the process! I believe this product is one of the few things that can do that!
Find & support KO Water Games in their journey to make people smile!